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Legacy List Tackles the Home of American Artist David Hayes

Matt Team Haye's Studio
Matt and his team check out David Hayes' studio in this week's Legacy List with Matt Paxton.

Finding the best way to honor and preserve a parent’s legacy can be overwhelming for any family. For the children of artist David Hayes - an American modern master - celebrating his distinguished body of work takes on national significance. 

David Hayes, Sr.
American sculptor, David Hayes

Hayes died in 2013, leaving an early-eighteenth century farmhouse in Coventry, Connecticut where he and his wife raised a family. The David Hayes Art Foundation plans to turn the fifty-four acre property into an indoor/outdoor art exhibit, featuring dozens of Hayes’ modern steel sculptures and mobiles scattered throughout the woods and meadows. 

Hayes’ son, David Hayes, Jr., enlisted Legacy List with Matt Paxton to sort through hundreds of his father’s sculptures, paintings, and sketches that filled the artist’s studio left untouched since his death, as the foundation prepares to catalogue Hayes’ sixty-plus year career.

“What a joy it was to work with such talented people,” said Hayes, Jr. “Every on-air personality and member of the crew were supremely good at their work, better yet they demonstrated bright enthusiasm in capturing this episode.”

Hayes, Sr. left an impressive legacy in the art world - his work exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, and his sculptures continue to show in major art museums around the United States. However, Matt and his team find a more personal legacy left by David Hayes, from father to son.

On his legacy list, Hayes, Jr. asked Matt’s team to find everyday items belonging not only to his father, but also his mother, who was a published writer and the one who kept the family on track throughout their growing years. Seemingly commonplace items provide Hayes’ son familiar touchstones, recalling deep and loving relationships in the Hayes family.

Matt with Plane - Hayes


And of course, Matt’s team find surprises throughout the Hayes’ house, like a hidden passage linking the house to the Underground Railroad. They also stumble upon famous artwork from some of Hayes’ contemporaries. Here’s a hint: one of the pieces is from a Spanish artist whose first and last names start with the letter “P.”

Tune in to Legacy List with Matt Paxton this Monday at 9:00 p.m. on VPM to discover David Hayes’ legacy, or stream it from the VPM website or through your PBS Passport.